Prof. Ilana Berman-Frank UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA

Chairman of Educational Committee and Member of the Scientific Committee

Role at the University of Haifa: Director of The Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences

Research Areas: The impact of aquatic ecosystems on the environment and society, ranging from the local to the global scales


Director of the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, and Professor at the Department of Marine Biology at the University of Haifa-Israel. Research in my lab is focused on how global changes and environmental stressors influence phytoplankton and microbial populations at the base of the aquatic food-webs with projects in the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Pacific Ocean. I have shifted from working on the dinoflagellates of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to the oceanic realm and the fascinating world of marine dinitrogen fixers. Other research projects are more locally relevant to issues specifically affecting our local marine environments of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and include examining the impacts of discharges from the rapidly expanding desalination industries on microbial coastal populations. I am also involved in a large collaborative interdisciplinary project that established and deployed the first deep-water tethered mooring in the Levantine basin of the eastern Mediterranean providing physical, chemical, and biological measurements of the water column. I am proud to lead a new large collaborative Helmholtz International Laboratory 5 year project (beginning 2022) with a joint team from the Charney School of Marine Sciences and GEOMAR in Kiel setting up “The Eastern Mediterranean Sea Centre – An Early-Warning Model-System for our Future Ocean”.

I believe that, as scientists, contributing to and interacting with the larger scientific community, the public, and the policy makers and regulators is our responsibility and a source for inspiration and motivation. Some of these exciting highlights, when I have felt that I can make a difference, have included: the organization of an international course (on behalf of EcoOcean) bringing together graduate students from Mediterranean countries in conflict to work jointly on marine and environmental issues affecting us all beyond national borders; heading the Israeli Association of Aquatic Sciences; and working with the Mediterranean Research Center of Israel (MERCI) over the years as the Chair of the Teaching/Education Committee supporting marine science students.

I am thrilled to see more and more women taking on the challenges of a career in the marine sciences and balancing field-based science along with all their other roles in life.  My last cruise in the Pacific Ocean where we spent 37 days at sea on board the French L’Atalante chasing underwater volcanos was a wonderful example of this.  Women comprised > 60% of the scientists on board including the two chief scientists and the first officer of the ship. Truly a welcome change from a couple of decades ago.